Teach Your Child How to Write a Thank-You Note
by Steve Calechman
Kids love most everything involved with presents – shopping for them, unwrapping them, playing with them. Writing thank-you notes for them? Not so much. Cindy Post Senning, Ed.D., director of the Emily Post Institute, offers these ideas to make the practice more fun and an important, lifelong habit.
• If your child delays or avoids writing notes, appeal to her reason. Ask her what it’s like when she does something nice for a friend and doesn’t hear “thank you.” She understands that it feels bad. Conversely, she understands how good it feels to be recognized. That context can provide the necessary motivation.
• Write your own notes. It’s not merely about modeling the behavior for your child. It’s about embodying it. Make it your own priority for your child to see and accept as important.
• Engage your child early on with age-appropriate ways to say “thank you.” Show him that kindness deserves special attention. When he’s 2, take a picture of him with the present to send with a quick note from you. When he’s 3 or 4, have him attach a sticker and color the note with his favorite crayon. As he gets older, he can sign his name, and, at 6-7, he can write his own note.
• Teach your child to keep notes short, no more than three sentences. The opening line should be the thanks for the gift. The second can mention something positive about it – how much she loves the color or how the money is going for a new bike. Close with a general sentiment about looking forward to seeing the gift-giver soon.
• If it’s post-holidays, have everyone writing at the table together. If it’s a solo venture, sit down with your child and pay your bills. It’ll feel like a joint activity – not a punishment or chore – and you’ll be there to help when he can’t find the right words.